Forum:How can bench biologists transition to be bioinformatics scientist?
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3.7 years ago
seahym ▴ 10

I want to progress from "bioinformatics user" to "bioinformatics scientist" (as defined here: from the former to the latter), and would appreciate thoughts and advice on how to achieve this without having to go back to school for bioinformatics. Is this even possible?

My background for a bit of context: I was trained as a bench microbiologist, and subsequently did graduate research in microbial evolution. During my graduate research years, I developed some basic programming skills as I was working on computational molecular evolution, enough to be comfortable with the command line, bash, Python, and R. I'm really interested in microbial genomics, and as part of my postdoc work now, I still work mostly in the command line, and do some coding for data analysis.

I've seen online threads and discussions on the positive value of biologists working in bioinformatics, but when it comes to the reality of hiring, the requirements always ask for formal training in CS/math/stats/bioinformatics, and place secondary value on biology/genomics backgrounds ("preferred but not necessary"). It's somewhat discouraging.. Thoughts?

transition career biology • 824 views
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3.7 years ago
GenoMax 134k

As they say anything is possible but with more trained bioinformaticians being produced by various degree programs around the world you are going to have plenty of company/competition for entry-level jobs. Based on what you wrote above it sounds like you are more than halfway there since you seem to have most of the basic skills for an informatician.

Your best bet for getting hired may be in academia to begin with. Spend a couple of years, publish some papers/pipelines/software and then look to move up with that experience under your belt. Good luck!

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Thanks for your comment! I'll need to start diverting some of my time towards delivering on a few projects that are bioinformatics-focused, as opposed to bioinformatics being just part of the methods.

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